By Mari Yamaguchi
TOKYO (AP) – Ken Takakura, a quiet, craggy-faced star known for playing outlaws and stoic heroes in many Japanese films, has died of lymphoma. He was 83 years old.
Perhaps best known abroad for his role as a police inspector in Ridley Scott’s “Black Rain” in 1989, Takakura died on November 10 in a Tokyo hospital where he was treated for the disease, according to his doctor. office and media reported Tuesday.
He rose to fame after his debut in 1956, becoming an icon in yakuza films such as “Abashiri Prison” in the 1960s.
Much of his appeal to Japanese audiences stemmed from his image as heroes fighting authority figures on behalf of the poor and the weak.
But over the course of a career spanning over 200 films, he has occasionally played comedic roles, such as his portrayal of a coach in 1992 in “Mr. Baseball.”
Compared to Clint Eastwood, Takakura has starred in detective novels and dramas, including the 1977 film “The Yellow Handkerchief” and “Railroad Man” from 1999 which won him the Best Actor award at the Montreal World Film Festival. .
News of his death dominated Japanese news programs almost continuously, and major newspapers distributed supplements in downtown Tokyo.
Unlike many Japanese celebrities, Takakura has eschewed the usual variety TV and melodrama series, maintaining a John Wayne aura of tenacity.
Born in 1931 as Goichi Oda in Fukuoka, southern Japan, he was recruited by a major film production as he applied for a managerial position.
Takakura’s friends and admirers have also described him as humble, honest and reserved in his real life.
“He was the last big star (in Japan),” said Shintaro Ishihara, 82, the award-winning writer and politician. “And yet Ken-san has lived a really healthy and healthy life unlike a lot of other stars who often end up paying the price later on.”
Although he has played many outlaw roles in yakuza films, Takakura said that he is not interested in today’s gangster films.
âI like films that portray the human heart and linger with me,â he told an interviewer from the Japan Subculture Research Center. “The Deer Hunter”, “Gladiator” and “The Godfather” were among his favorites, he said.
In âDearestâ, the last of Takakura’s award-winning films in 2012, he plays a retired prison guard who goes on an introspective journey with a postcard that arrived after his wife’s death.
According to a fax released by his office, Takakura was preparing for his next project at the hospital.
In 2013, when Takakura attended a ceremony to receive Japan’s highest cultural honor, the Order of Culture, at the Imperial Palace, he joked that he often played characters considered to be the most distant from the exalted kingdom of the palace.
âIn the movies, I am more often than not an ex-convict. I am grateful for the award despite many of these roles that I have played, âsaid Takakura. “I really believe hard work pays off.” (to finish)